Plot: What’s it about?
In the Chinese city of Guancheng, the world’s greatest martial artists reside and hold court. Four families have served as the keepers of martial arts for generations, upholding the traditions of the past. If a new technique is to be recognized, it must be tested against these families, no small task. If one isn’t able to best the masters from these four houses, then they’re unable to teach their techniques. Liang (Song Yang) was taught a new technique by his now deceased master and he wants to open a new school, where others can learn this imposing martial art. He challenges the masters and defeats the first three, only to have the fourth refuse to fight him based on the sword used in the technique. Of course Liang is discouraged, as without a fight there can be no school, but he isn’t going to surrender so easily. But faced with generations of unbroken tradition, can Liang devise a plan and get his master’s technique honored with a new school?
I love good swordplay in movies and as you might guess from the title, The Sword Identity has some great swordplay. The film is not an all out action movie however, instead it has action, drama, humor, and a very thoughtful script. A more cerebral martial arts picture, as the old vs. new dynamic is explored, as well as the philosophical side of martial arts. Not the kind of stuff you see in most films of this kind, but it is fresh and helps The Sword Identity stand out. So if you need wall to wall action, you won’t find it here, although the action scenes are excellent. So when the swords are unsheathed, you’re in for a treat with some intricate, well designed sword combat. While I appreciate the well crafted story elements, the film does run overly long and tends to drag on in some sequences. But while the pacing has some issues, the film overall is a good watch and as I mentioned before, has some terrific swordplay. So if you’re a fan of martial arts cinema and like a good story with your action, then be sure to give The Sword Identity a chance.
Video: How does it look?
The Sword Identity is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a good looking visual treatment, though of course an HD presentation would be preferable. Even so, I found the image here to be clean and sharp, with good detail and no overly soft visuals. The costumes and locations are beautiful here, so I was glad for a competent transfer. The colors look natural, but so hues aren’t that vivid, while contrast is stable and consistent. So the movie is given a proper treatment and fans will appreciate that, given the film’s lush visual design.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release offers the choice between the original Mandarin and an English language version, both presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. As you’d expect, the more action driven scenes have more surround presence. But this isn’t explosive action, so don’t expect to shake the walls with this soundtrack. But the sword battles have a great sound design and it really enhances those sequences. The rest of the audio is rather reserved, but still sounds quite good. This disc also includes English and Spanish subtitles, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.